Stalking girl pursues guy in bland comedy; language.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mariposa is an Indonesian teen comedy (in Indonesian with English subtitles) about a pushy, insistent girl who stalks the guy she has a crush on, to the point where he's left no choice but to repeatedly and harshly reject her advances. The fact that she gets the guy in the end (not a spoiler) seems predetermined, but it may teach the wrong lessons about being courteous to others, taking no for an answer, respecting the feelings of others, and understanding that we can't always get what we want, no matter how much we want it. Language includes "s--t," "hell," and "bitch." A character falls into a pool and pretends to drown, forcing another character to jump in and rescue her. He himself starts to drown and she rescues him, performing CPR on him.
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What's the Story?
Acha (Adhisty Zara) is a 16-year-old chemistry wiz, new at her Indonesian high school in MARIPOSA. She immediately develops a crush on Iqbal (Angga Yunanda), a physics wiz, and brazenly starts following him in the face of his constant and unambiguous rejection. At first meeting, she asks for his phone number, explaining that she finds him handsome and smart. When he gives her a massage parlor's number to throw her off his track, she inexplicably concludes to best friend Manda (Dannia Salsabill) that this means he likes her. Iqbal has a strict father who discourages all activities and relationships that might distract his son from the dad's perfectionist goals. "Be the best or be nothing at all," the dad repeats, leaving Iqbal feeling like a disappointing failure. Iqbal and Acha end up on the school's National Science Olympics team with Juna (Syakir Daulay), the best math student, heading for a competition that will help the winners win science scholarships at prestigious universities. Acha uses every trick to be near Iqbal, and when she gets herself and Iqbal in detention, she falls in a swimming pool and pretends she's drowning. He jumps in to save her and truly start to drown, requiring she pull him out and administer CPR, which looks like a kiss on the video of them that goes viral. With more and more reason to dislike Acha, Iqbal uses bolder and more hurtful language to discourage her, but she continues to ignore his wishes, acting in ways that border on rudeness, stubbornly ignoring obvious social cues. She adheres to her philosophy that "even the hardest rock can be penetrated by constant drops of water." Inexplicably, her methods prevail.
Is It Any Good?
When Mariposa isn't repetitive, overlong, and outright boring, it's simply annoying, owing to a central character who's mistakenly painted as admirably determined. But "determined" is only a positive trait when it's married to judicious self assessment, a quality glaringly absent from the lead Acha. As portrayed here, she's little more than a foolish stalker with no concept of social boundaries. She adamantly remains oblivious to Iqbal's obvious indifference to her. Yes, Iqbal is under pressure from his controlling father to excel, but that doesn't mean that he would otherwise be crazy about an annoying, borderline creepy girl who is constantly in his face. Iqbal, who stands up for himself admirably, is unreasonably painted as a hurtful villain.
The movie crosses the line past ridiculousness when Acha is hospitalized mid-competition for nosebleeds and diagnosed as "exhausted." Yet she checks herself out to compete in the last leg of the Olympiad. After that, her "condition" never comes up again. The biggest laugh comes when the oblivious Acha, someone who can't read the most obvious cues and ignores Iqbal's feelings just because they don't reinforce her own, reveals her career plans: She wants to wants to be a child psychologist. Although the movie is cloaked in a veil of supposed niceness, with baby-ish, non-threatening pale blues and pinks as the reassuringly mild color scheme, this movie reinforces stalking myths, that people are just "playing hard to get," really want to be pursued, and will fall in love with their stalkers. Stalking isn't love, and if Acha were a male and Iqbal female, the danger of this belief would be far more obvious.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why Acha's mother encourages her to pursue the boy she supposedly "loves." Do you think Acha and her mother have good judgment about human nature? Why or why not?
Do you think Acha was right in ignoring Iqbal's direct request to leave him alone? Would the situation seem different if the male character was stalking the female character? Why or why not?
In general, do you think it's possible to change someone's dislike into like? Why or why not?
What is the difference between liking someone who doesn't like you and stalking someone who doesn't like you? Which category does Acha fall into?
- On DVD or streaming: March 4, 2020
- Cast: Adhisty Zara, Angga Yunanda, Dannia Salsabill, Syakir Daulay, Ersa Mayori
- Director: Fajar Bustomi
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 19, 2023
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